Amidst the lockdowns of 2020, school cyberattacks grew increasingly common and brazen, particularly in an environment that was abruptly displaced and moved online. Hackers illegally gained access to private data, instituted denial of access attacks, and employed techniques like phishing and malware to disrupt educational systems and target students and teachers. Unfortunately, even with many districts returning to in-person learning, the increased technological connectivity of schools means that school cyberattacks are likely to continue.
Why Are These Cyberattacks Such a Threat?
School cyberattacks are unique for several reasons. They may allow access to confidential or personal data, jeopardizing student or faculty privacy. They also may be deeply threatening in learning environments, and can involve traumatic content for students — like hate speech — making them highly disruptive to the learning process.
Finally, cyberattacks on schools are particularly threatening because most schools have little room to maneuver in their budgets, and may be acutely vulnerable due to this difficulty in affording comprehensive cybersecurity protocols.
For these reasons and others, it is important for educators and school administrators to familiarize themselves with the basic techniques of cyberattacks, and do what is possible to ramp up defenses. When possible, consulting with a risk management company or insurer may help to develop protocols that can make schools less vulnerable to and more equipped to deal with cyberattacks.